Mark Shriver

Mark Shriver

Professor of Anthropology
511 Carpenter Building University Park, PA 16802
(814) 863-1078
Mark Shriver

Curriculum Vitae


B.S. in Biology, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1987
Ph.D. in Genetics, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 1993

Professional Bio

Professional Bio

Research Activities and Interests:

View video of Dr. Shriver's research

Dr. Shriver’s lab addresses questions related to recent human evolution -- in particular the evolution that took place during and after the spread of anatomically modern humans across the globe. Since it is clear from both physiological and genetic studies that all human populations have a very recent common origin, features (namely, genes and genetically determined traits and disease risks) that are different between populations are unique in having undergone evolution in the recent past. Some of the phenotypes Dr. Shriver’s lab focuses on include skin pigmentation, voice pitch and other sexually dimorphic traits, hair traits, facial features, preterm birth risk, adaptation to altitude, and type-2 diabetes risk. Most recently, Dr. Shriver’s lab has been collecting 3-D images of faces, analyzing the DNA of the photographed individuals, and printing, with a 3-D printer, images of the individuals’ faces.

Dr. Shriver’s lab uses methods of admixture mapping, which are well suited to the identification of genes that determine interpopulation differences in traits such as those listed above. Starting in the early 2000s, Dr. Shriver and his group made progress laying a foundation for understanding the population dynamics of admixed populations and the importance of population structure in making phenotype/admixture correlations detectible. His was one of the first groups to show with real data that the extensive population structure that results from admixture can be effectively controlled for using statistics.

In addition to the above research activities, Dr. Shriver’s lab occasionally consults for law-enforcement agencies by helping officials to use science to further justice and to improve public safety. In 2003, Dr. Shriver assisted Louisiana police in their investigation of a serial rapist and murderer. He and his team began by using ancestry markers they had developed to analyze DNA found at crime scenes. They then were able to point detectives in the direction of a group of suspects they had not previously considered. After police broadened their investigation based on Dr. Shriver’s suggestions, police apprehended a suspect, Derrick Todd Lee, who was later proven to be the rapist-murderer. More recently, in 2009, detectives in Philadelphia working on another serial rapist case, the “Fairmount Park rapist case,” contacted Dr. Shriver. His lab processed DNA samples and provided some new information regarding the identity of this suspect.

Finally, as a consequence of his involvement in many TV documentaries, Dr. Shriver recently became interested in using video as a teaching and learning tool. This effort was first realized in a series of short videos that called “Reading between the genes: A bilingual educational video series on genetics, evolution and public health.” Most of the videos in this series have been viewed over a thousand times. Later, he transitioned into teaching undergraduate classes where the students produce their own science videos. These classes have resulted in two video series: “Morehouse College Science Methods” and the more-recent “Penn State AnthroVision Channel” on Youtube. In the video-making class, future scientists and science educators are encouraged to explore new forms of public outreach. Not only do the students find video-making fun and inspiring, they also learn the lesson that they can and should combat anti-science propaganda through a better and more effective form of science communication -- for example, through video.



Dr. Shriver has an active research program that involves ascertaining study subjects from the resident population of State College, surrounding towns, and the world at large. The focus of this research is the genetics of normal variation in common traits. Periodically, the Anthropometrics Lab goes on international field trips, for example, to Brazil, to Mexico, and to various European countries. Please email for information on ongoing research protocols.

Courses Taught:

  • ANTH021 “Introduction to physical anthropology”
  • ANTH297 “Genes in human evolution and behavior”
  • ANTH413 “Molecular forensic anthropology”
  • ANTH461 “Molecular anthropology”
  • ANTH497 “Teaching and learning anthropology using video”

Recent Publications (from > 100):

  • Johnson, N.A., Coram, M.A., Shriver, M.D., Romieu, I., Barsh, G., London, S.J., Tang, H. (in press) “Ancestral Components of Admixed Genomes in a Mexican Cohort” PLoS Genetics."
  • Parra, E.J., Below, J.E., Krithika, S., Valladares, A., Barta, J.L., Cox, N.L., Hanis, C.L., Wacher, N., Garcia-Mena, J., Hu, P., Shriver, M.D., The DIAGRAM Consortium, Kumate, J.,  McKeigue, P., Escobedo, J., Cruz, M. (2011). “Genome-wide association study of type 2 diabetes in a sample from Mexico City and meta-analysis with a Mexican American sample from Starr County, TX,” Diabetelogia Vol. 54,2038-46.
  • Klimentidis YC, Aissani B, Shriver M.D., Allison DB, Shrestha S. (2011). “Natural selection among Eurasians at genomic regions associated with HIV-1 control,” BMC Evol Biol. Vol. 11,173.
  • Wilson, R.T., Roff, A.N., Dai, P.J., Fortugno, T., Douds, J., Chen, G., Nikiforova, S.O., Barnholtz-Sloan, J., Frudakis, T., Chinchilli, V.M., Hartman, T.J., Demers, L.M., Shriver, M.D., Canfield, V.A., Cheng, K.C. (2011) “Genetic ancestry, skin reflectance and pigmentation genotypes in association with serum vitamin D metabolite balance,” Horm. Mol. Biol. Clin. Invest. Vol. 7,279-293.
  • Quillen E, Guiltinan JS, Beleza S, Rocha J, Pereira RW, Shriver MD. (2011) Iris texture traits show associations with iris color and genomic ancestry. Am J. Hum. Biol. 23:567-569.
  • Bigham AW, Bauchet M, Pinto D, Mao X, Akey JM, Mei R, Scherer SW, Julian CG, Wilson MJ, Herraez DL, Brutsaert T, Parra EJ, Moore LG, Shriver MD. (2010) Identifying signatures of natural selection in Tibetan and Andean populations using dense genome scan data. 6: e1001116. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1001116
  • Bigham AW, Mao X, Mei R, Brutsaert T, Wilson MJ, Julian CG, Parra EJ, Akey JM, Moore LG, Shriver MD. (2009) Identifying positive selection candidate loci for high-altitude adaptation in Andean populations. Human Genomics 4:79-90.
  • Halder I, Yang B-Z, Kranzler HR, Stein MB, Shriver MD, Gelernter J (2009) Measurement of Admixture Proportions and description of admixture structure in different U.S. populations. Human Mutation 30:1299-1309.
  • Julian CG, Wilson MJ, Lopez M, Yamashiro H, Tellez W, Rodriguez A, Bigham A, Shriver M, Rodriguez C, Vargas E, Moore LG. (2009) Augmented uterine artery blood flow and oxygen delivery protect Andeans from altitude-associated reductions in fetal growth.Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 296:R1564-R1575
  • Klimentidis YC, Shriver MD. (2009) Estimating genetic ancestry proportions from faces. PLoS ONE. 4:e4460.
  • Klimentidis YC, Miller GF, Shriver MD. (2009) The relationship between European genetic admixture and body composition among Hispanics and Native Americans. Am J Hum Biol. 21:377-82.
  • Klimentidis YC, Miller GF, Shriver MD. (2009) Genetic admixture, self-reported ethnicity, self-estimated admixture, and skin pigmentation among Hispanics and Native Americans. Am J Phys Anthropol. 138:375-83.
  • Anum EA, Springel EH, Shriver MD, Strauss JF 3rd. (2009) Genetic contributions to disparities in preterm birth. Pediatr Res. 65:1-9.
  • Bigham AW, Kiyamu M, León-Velarde F, Parra EJ, Rivera-Ch M, Shriver MD, Brutsaert TD. (2008) Angiotensin-converting enzyme genotype and arterial oxygen saturation at high altitude in Peruvian Quechua. High Alt Med Biol. 9:167-78.
  • Halder, I., Shriver, M.D., Thomas, M., Fernandez, J.R., and Frudakis, T. (2008) A panel of ancestry informative markers for estimating individual biogeographical ancestry and admixture from four continents: utility and applications. Human Mutation 29:648-658.
  • Miller, C.T, Beleza, S., Pollen, A.A., Schluter, D., Kittles, R.A., Shriver, M.D., and Kingsley, D.M. (2007) Cis regulatory changes in Kit ligand expression and parallel evolution of pigmentation changes in sticklebacks and humans. Cell 131:1179-89.
  • Wang, H., Sammel, M.D., Tromp, G., Gotsch, F., Halder, I., Shriver, M.D., Romero, R., and Strauss, J.F. III (2008) A 12-bp deletion in the 5’flanking region of the SERPINH1 gene affects promotor activity and protects against preterm premature rupture of membranes in African Americans. Hum. Mutation 29:332.
  • Bauchet, M., McEvoy, B., Pearson, L.N., Quillen, E.E., Sarkisyan, T., Hovhannesyan, K., Deka, R., Bradley, D.G., and Shriver, M.D.(2007) Measuring European Population Stratification using Microarray Genotype Data. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 80:948-956.
  • Mao, X., Bigham, A. W., Mei, R., Gutierrez, G., Weiss, K.M., Brutsaert, T.D., Leon-Velarde, F., Moore, L.G., Vargas, E., McKeigue, P.M.,Shriver, M.D., and Parra, E.J. (2007) A Genome wide Admixture Mapping Panel for Hispanic/Latino Populations Am. J. Hum. Genet., 80:1171-1178.
  • Norton, H.L., Kittles, R.A., Parra, E., McKeigue, P., Mao, X., Cheng, K., Canfield, V.A., Bradley, D.G., McEvoy, B., and Shriver, M.D.(2006) Genetic Evidence for the Convergent Evolution of Light Skin in Europeans and East Asians. Mol Biol Evol. 24:710-722.
  • McEvoy, B., Beleza, S., and Shriver, M.D. (2006) The genetic architecture of normal variation in human pigmentation: an evolutionary perspective and model. Hum Mol Genet. Spec No 2:R176-81.